Finally, a Rule We Can Get Behind!”: Testimony of Mitchel Cohen at NYPD Regs Hearing

Mitchel Cohen Dec 15, 2006

My name is Mitchel Cohen, and I’m representing the Brooklyn Greens, a local of the Green Party of New York. I am here to speak IN FAVOR of the proposed changes to the permitting process, which quite reasonably seeks to limit to 30 the number of people in any lawful procession, and after that a permit is required. Yes!!! The police brass finally understand what we meant by “Don’t trust anyone over 30!”

No more the 30 smokers milling about in front of restaurants befouling the air – every grouping of smokers must get a permit! Thirty cars driving down Broadway in rush hour – GET A PERMIT OR FACE ARREST! Thirty cadets coming out of the Police Academy on East 20th Street – NO PERMIT, NO GRADUATION! Thirty sailors in Times Square during Meet the Fleet week – GET A PERMIT or back on your boat!

I do have some questions, though:
a) Funeral processions? What if there are 31 cars in the procession to the cemetery? Will the beloved corpse be detained?
b) What is the length of time in which 30 people must pass through a subway turnstile before a permit can be required?
c) What is the physical proximity in yardage needed to designate random passersby a “procession” and thus require a permit? What if they are all wearing the same political button?
d) What if 30 people walk past a checkpoint and they are all smiling – do they require a permit? What if they are whistling, or all wearing the same t-shirt?
e) What if the musicians in the New York Philharmonic are walking together to perform at the stage in Central Park – can they be considered acting in concert?
f) Especially in the holiday season, what about 30 Christmas carolers – OK, no permit needed, right? What if they go from house to house caroling but suddenly switch to antiwar songs, will they need a permit then?
g) Does the proposed procedure also limit police shootings of African- American males to 30 bullets?
h) What about those months on the calendar that have exactly 30 days.

Do we need to lessen them by at least one day each and then create a new month out of the extra days? Let’s call the new month, for argument’s sake, Thermidor.

I salute the police brass for grabbing the bull by the horns and initiating this important venture. For too long police officials have been forced to sit impotently on the sidelines as the Constitution granted only the elected legislative, executive and judicial officials the power to make the laws that govern us. In my view, it is time for NYPD officials to come out of the closet as the fourth branch of government, to imbue upon themselves the power to make laws and supercede those elected constitutional bodies.

A good beginning occurred when the NYPD brass decided not to permit officers to provide statements after killing a suspect even to internal investigators, until a great deal of time had passed and cover stories could be fabricated and synchronized. That blue wall of silence stands proud and needs to be extended everywhere, like an iron curtain around this city.

That is why all New Yorkers must support this and other measures through which police officials grant themselves the authority to regulate who is and who is not allowed the right to freedom of speech and assembly. Remember 9-11. We’ll show those “terrorists” what real freedom is all about. Thank you very much.

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